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Nick Cushing: It’s not enough to make the playoffs

In this exclusive interview with the NYCFC head coach, we discuss the team’s identity — and high expectations.

The head coach's expectations are high this year |

Hudson River Blue spoke with New York City FC head coach Nick Cushing for an exclusive interview at the Etihad City Football Academy training facility in Rockland County, NY where members of the Senior Team were preparing for Saturday’s game against Chicago Fire

This interview was edited for clarity.

Hudson River Blue: You often talk about the identity of the team and how you want the team to play. How would you describe it?

Nick Cushing: Ultimately, we have to control the game with the ball. That’s with and without and possession — the shape that our team has allows us to be ready to attack and ready to defend at any moment. 

That was the challenge we had in the Nashville game. If we don’t have the structure and shape right, we’ll defend too many counter-attacks, in the Nashville game we defended too many counter-attacks and that turns into a lot of set plays, and those teams play off that. 

Possession will allow us to manipulate the opponent to open spaces and then get our offensive players into the game. A lot of teams are going to try to press us high, and if we find the extra player and find the space we’ll create more opportunities. 

Ultimately, if we have 65% of the ball we only have to defend for the remaining part of the game, and if we can press high for parts of that then we don’t have to defend our goal. We didn’t do enough of that in the Nashville game. 

Our team is set up to play a compact game in possession. If the game is open and the game gets end-to-end and up-and-down, other teams are better than us at that. 

Other teams have more physical players, and you see the physical presence of Bunbery and Zimmerman, those types of players, you see the Red Bulls and St Louis, they’re set up to control the physical part of the game, and we’re set up to control the technical part of the game.

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